Unfortunately, lots of kids and teenagers fall victim to low self-esteem. But did you know YOU play a huge role in how they view themselves? Even though they don't like to admit it, most of the opinions kids have about themselves comes from what their parents do and say!
Just how important is a healthy dose of self-esteem?
With it, kids can grow, develop, and learn better. In fact, self-esteem will give your kids the power to:
- Make friends and interact with people their own age.
- Successfully handle the ups AND downs of life.
- Be independent.
- Be responsible.
- Take pride in their accomplishments.
- Work towards solutions, instead of just drowning in problems.
- Have plenty of energy.
However, kids that don't have a whole lot of self-esteem suffer in every facet of their lives. If they don't feel good about themselves, your kids may not ever try anything new. In fact, they'll probably act like they don't care about anything! They'll have trouble making friends (or make friends with the wrong people!) and will be easily influenced (something that can be especially dangerous if they're hanging out with the wrong crowd!). They may not say it, but they'll probably also feel completely unloved.
So, how can you make sure your kids have all the self-esteem they need?
You've got to start by watching your kids closely. Since kid and teenage emotions can literally change from hour to hour, you need to be on the lookout for any changes - even minor ones. A backhanded comment from a fellow student on the school bus can be enough to send your child's self-esteem reeling. If you don't build them back up when they get home, the problem is likely to snowball.
You also need to work hard to combat the irrational. After all, kids are like little sponges. If they hear something often enough - even if it's totally irrational - they'll eventually accept it as fact. If, for example, the school bully keeps telling your child that he's stupid, he'll wind up believing it. It's up to you to make sure that these irrational thoughts stay far, far away!
But that's not all it takes. You also need to:
1. Pick your own words carefully.
Your comments can literally make or break your kids' self-esteem. So, make sure your reactions are the right ones! For example, if your child failed a test - but studied really hard for it beforehand - tell them how proud you are of their hard work. Even though they didn't do as well as they would've liked, they put in a huge effort and that should be commended.
2. Consider yourself a role model.
Like it or not, the way you act will determine how your kids act. For example, if you're always criticizing yourself, your kids will, too - meaning they'll beat down their own self-esteem just like you do! If you have a problem with your own self-esteem, your kids will be likely to develop it, too. So, work on your self-esteem first. That way, you'll all feel great! (And as an added benefit, you can share some of your self-esteem boosting tips with them!)
3. Make sure they understand no one is perfect.
Everyone makes mistakes and it's important for your kids to learn that. So, if it takes them awhile to learn long division, it doesn't mean they're failures. Make sure they understand it may take awhile to learn new things and it's OK if it does.
4. Be respectful.
Even though they're small, your kids need your full respect. When you make a decision, explain the thought behind it. Whatever you do, don't make fun of them!
5. Let your kids know you love them.
Isn't this what parenting is all about?! Make sure your kids know that they're loved and appreciated. Just be genuine. After all, kids can tell when you're not being sincere!